Following a solo tour at the beginning of this year that saw Augustines frontman Billy McCarthy reflect on his past five years in the band, the Brooklyn-born trio are gearing up for a major headline tour this October. Ahead of their headline slot at Dot 2 Dot, Augustines paid a visit to Manchester Academy 2 last Wednesday to warm up for the festival season ahead.
Packed to the brim even before support act Rob Lynch had left the stage, it was clear that excitement levels were sky high. Academy 2 was soon plunged into darkness, followed by deafening screams and a raucous introduction to arguably Augustines’ biggest hit, Chapel Song – pounding drums and catchy riffs.
Tracks such as Headlong Into The Abyss and Juarez took the crowd to another dimension of delirium, loving the fact that the trio hadn’t abandoned their older material. Trilby hats were flying everywhere as they thrashed around the stage – a true testament to how raw and passionate they are as a band.
Between a few anecdotes chucked in here and there about their time touring with Noel Gallagher and tongue-in-cheek remarks about Guns ‘n’ Roses rocker Axl Rose, Augustines are more than half way through the set – with no sign of giving up.
It’s clear that Billy McCarthy has just the right amount of charisma for a frontman – it comes across well enough for it not to be overpowering; often interacting with fans and getting down into the midst of the pit to experience the palpable atmosphere.
The slower tracks come to a halt, paving the way for some serious anthemic vibes that emit from the tracks of their latest album. As McCarthy’s gravelly, strong vocals sing out during the melodic Cruel City and the tumultuous Are We Alive?, his voice is soon drowned out by the 800+ compelling crowd singing back word for word, which leaves you wondering why Augustines aren’t packing out bigger venues. But there’s one thing for sure though – there’s most certainly still time for that.
The haunting instrumentals of Weary Eyes fade out, leading us to believe it may possibly the last track of the night, but fans aren’t convinced. As Augustines gracefully exit the stage, the crowd erupted into the usual encore routine of feet banging and clapping, screaming until they’re convinced that the American trio are about to make a reappearance.
A sombre-sounding Walkabout brings the pace down a notch, laced with a beautiful piano melody courtesy of Eric Sanderson. Penultimate track Nothing To Lose But Your Head kicks in explosively, married with the delighted screams and even more dancing to finish off an incredible night.
But it was debatable as to whether the night was finished. As people looked round slightly confused and bewildered, ready to leave and wondering why the house lights were yet to appear, Augustines appeared for a second encore.
All in all, their set spanned well over an hour and a half – which was most definitely an impressive feat. When watching bands nowadays, you’re lucky if you get 50 minutes. McCarthy, armed with only his harmonica and guitar for company, launches into the final song of the night: The Avenue.